This past Friday, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted a panel on sanctity of life issues. Panelists included journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, who have co-authored a book and produced a movie about the notorious late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, and Marcie Little of the pro-life group Save the Storks. The panel was moderated by Sean Fieler of the American Principles Project.
Fieler began the panel with an optimistic analysis of the current state of the pro-live movement. One year ago, we could not pass a twenty-week abortion ban; now we have a president who is “delivering on his promises”—by reinstating the Mexico City Policy, nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and appointing Tom Price as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. According to Fieler, the politics of the abortion issue have changed: “Donald Trump is not afraid of the media on life.” He knows that if he directly communicates to the people on abortion, he can make the pro-life position a political winner.
Fieler added: “We have to credit the Democrats. They dug themselves into an indefensible position.” In their party platform, Democrats no longer wish to make abortion rare. They forced their vice presidential nominee to drop his opposition to taxpayer funded abortion. Fieler predicted that Trump will defund Planned Parenthood and, if he gets a chance, will appoint another pro-life justice and “put this ugly chapter in the American experience behind us.”
The next speaker was documentarian Phelim McAleer. He was asked what had motivated him to write a book and produce a movie about Kermit Gosnell. He said that, as a journalist, he had been surprised to see the empty press seats at the Gosnell trial in 2013. Supporters of abortion rights have done a good job of sanitizing a barbarous procedure, but the Gosnell trial brought to light the reality of abortion. According to McAleer, “everyone involved [in the trial] became more pro-life.”
Both McAleer and Ann McElhinney spoke at length about several aspects of the Gosnell trial that had received little attention from the mainstream media. Gosnell is exceptionally eccentric, greedy, and reckless. He owns seventeen properties. When he was arrested, he was found with $250,000 cash on hand. He kept the feet of aborted babies as trophies and took compromising photos of his patients. Philadelphia hospitals had frequently treated patients whom Gosnell had maimed or injured. But even after the deaths of two of Gosnell’s patients, Karnamaya Mongar and Semika Shah, public health bureaucrats in Harrisburg never once bothered to visit Gosnell’s clinic.
McElhinney concluded her remarks with the story of Baby Boy A. “No one has heard his story, but by the time we are done they will.” Baby Boy A was the baby the Gosnell described as “big enough to walk to the bus stop.” After he was born, he was thrown into a Tupperware container. Twenty minutes later, Gosnell killed him. Photographs were taken, which nailed Gosnell. As McElhinney said, Baby Boy A is consequential, because he has literally saved people’s lives.
The final speaker was Marcie Little of Save the Storks, an organization that publicizes the stories of post-abortive women. It also runs a team of mobile units that provide free resources to abortion-minded women. Little reported that “four out of five women who see an image of their child via ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat choose life.” She went on to say that the first mobile unit saved 394 lives during its first year.
The last question posed to the panel was: “What does the pro-life movement need to do?” McElhinney urged telling people in your state what the law is. Many people do not know that, in many states, an abortion can be procured at nine months. We should have signs and billboards to that effect. Little concluded the panel by emphasizing that “we need everyone’s time, talent, and resources.”
Michael J. New is a visiting associate professor at Ave Maria University and associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.